Every Belgian will have access to a post office and an ATM in the municipality in which they live. This is a result of the new administration’s agreement with bpost, for which the Federal Cabinet has given the green light. This covers the period from 2022 to 2026 and has “great ambitions at the environmental and social level”, says Minister in charge Petra de Sutter (Green).
A management agreement is a type of contract between the government and bpost. It contains a series of objectives imposed by the government on the company, for which it is compensated. For example, the government decided to maintain and modernize the network of 1,300 post offices and postal points, in line with the new needs and requirements of our society. “For example, it will guarantee that all Belgians in their municipality have access to a post office or an ATM,” Minister de Sutter said.
Basic financial transactions, such as remittances, will still be executable at post offices and postal points. Banks will be able to offer their services at post offices. Bpost will provide at least 350 ATMs and at least 1 ATM in municipalities where no other ATMs (automated teller machine) are available. Cities and municipalities are given the option to order the installation of an additional vending machine at their own expense.
The Post Minister explains: “Public companies are setting an example, particularly in the area of sustainability, diversity and accessibility. Through this management contract, we consolidate and modernize several bpost services of great importance to our community.” “No one should be left out, whether it is about the digital divide or accessibility for people with disabilities.”
For example, ten percent of post offices (65) will be converted to digital centers or digital counters during a 2.5-year trial period. In other words, they will provide digital support to people who are digitally vulnerable and have few digital skills. This support can collect a file, object a fine, request a public transport ride, or other actions that require online authentication.
The Seventh Management Contract also stipulates that post offices should eventually be accessible to persons with disabilities. Some offices will be converted for this purpose. In post offices where this is not possible, flexible and customized solutions will be offered. To this end, the company will appoint a Disability Coordinator and will work closely with organizations that work with people with disabilities.
The social role of the postman
The convention also recognizes the postman’s social role, particularly with regard to people who are isolated, in need of help, or victims of the digital divide. For example, bpost will continue to work proactively with PCSWs or other public institutions to help identify potential beneficiaries of certain services that can assist them or to carry out some positive task in the homes of those beneficiaries.
Bpost already had a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20 percent between 2017 and 2030. We’d like to at least double that target to 40 percent, or even 50 percent. Additionally, it would be possible for any carrier or public carrier to rely on bpost to deliver tickets via a physical channel.
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